Social Wifi is one of those polarizing topics where people are either “Meh, I don’t care,” or “OMG, NOOOOO!”
At the latest Wireless Field Day
, I had the pleasure of meeting Drew Lentz
) who I’ve interacted with over Twitter for a couple years. At Airtight
, he was presenting Scrape, an application and use case for social Wi-Fi. There’s a lot to like about Scrape. One is that you trade your social media information for a better experience.
I like this concept a lot. For starters the idea of providing a better experience to end users. One of the big worries about social Wi-Fi is the fear that you (the end user) are the product, and that you are being sold for free Wi-Fi. With Scrape, the idea is to make your experience better, giving you something beyond an Internet connection.
Also, if you watch Drew’s presentation, Scrape only has access to the information during the wireless session, removing you and your info when you leave. Bonus for those people who are paranoid that these social applications mining their data. This isn’t to say that the AirTight backend can’t mine that information, but that’s a whole other post.
As with all things social, I find there is a very thin line between providing the user with features and functionality, and doing creepy things that I oppose. It’s tough to walk that line, and I think Drew, Scrape and Airtight do a good job of walking that line in this case.
I think the determining factor for the long term success of social Wi-Fi is for social media websites to come to up with a better model for security and data permissions to enable applications like Scrape and it’s integration into Airtight to provide that value, without endangering users with the data being mined from their profiles.